If you would like to take your virtual driving up a notch and into the realm of a dedicated simulator, Assetto Corsa Competizione has been a staple choice for leagues, esports events and real-world drivers looking for some practice since 2018.
Up until recently, however, this has largely been the preserve of those with a gaming PC – and a beefy one too due to the power-intense programming of the official GT World Challenge game. It has been available to those with a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One console since 2020, but while this version drove well, its visual performance was a catastrophe.
Now though, a new iteration has been released for the more powerful PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S devices. Thankfully, those without the space, time or requisite budget to set up a gaming rig can experience one of the best home-based driving experiences in its intended fashion.
What we have here is a vast array of GT3 and GT4 machinery, up to 19 tracks, close racing against computer-controlled rivals and competitive online events all nestled within with knock-out visuals, dynamic weather conditions and some of the most realistic driving feedback around.
It’s that latter point where Kunos Simulazioni’s eulogy to SRO’s GT racing series prowess has never been in doubt. Use a steering wheel peripheral, and the force feedback effect creates an unparalleled sense of realism. Hopping over kerbs at Oulton Park feels brutal enough to prevent track limit abuse, packing more punch than a Tyson Fury knockout blow.
Assetto Corsa Competizione’s core strengths have translated with aplomb, such as the industry-leading engine audio, convoluted but engaging pitstop sequences and a physics system that rewards in-depth knowledge of steering lock settings, aero balance and tyre pressures.
So do some of the fêted platform’s idiosyncrasies. There’s a driver rating system that constantly monitors your ability – even in offline practice – and if you don’t reach a high enough level, the best online races are off-limits for you. A great idea in principle that isn’t signposted enough.
Similarly, with button assignments, engine map usage and start procedures you are simply left to your own devices. Thankfully, there is a thriving community of advice articles, videos and forums to delve into to provide a helping hand. In some respects, that’s part of the appeal, but I believe that more needs to be done to help explain features and settings for newcomers.
The single-player career’s structure is also unexceptional, for the most part, a procession of race events with no attempt to add extra depth through team management. Then again, for a focussed platform like this, anything outside of time trials and multiplayer can be seen as a bonus.
Visually, this runs smoothly and looks just as good as a powerful PC, if not the bleeding edge in aesthetics. Loading times too are fleeting, helping you nip between a night race at Mount Panorama to a GT4 event at Kyalami in the blink of an eye.
As an added bonus, private online lobbies are included, allowing you to natively race with friends without hiring a server. Not being able to change race settings mutes the appeal somewhat and the omission of driver swaps likely means esports competitions will not be held on PlayStation or Xbox, however.
Upon launch, there was a litany of small, slightly off, gaffs – such as the throttle being cut when you went to change car settings on track – but the vast majority of these were amended rapidly, and so now the end result is mostly plane sailing. Watch for that steering lock setting, however…
On the PC there was, however, a Version 1.8 update in November 2021 that improved the handling characteristics even further, but this has yet to materialise for the more affordable devices. Hopefully, this appears sooner rather than later, as it means the recent Challengers Pack content that included Valentino Rossi’s Audi and the latest Porsche 911 Cup car cannot be released on console at present.
Still, driving against a packed GT3 field, at night, in the rain, around Spa-Francorchamps with the most aurally pleasing sound design in the sim racing space is a brutal, but rewarding, challenge that any motorsport fan should experience. Hopefully now with these new console versions, many more will do.
|Developer||Kunos Simulazioni and Untold Games|
|Release date||22nd February 2022|
|Available platforms||PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S (PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One previously available)|
|Version tested||PlayStation 5|
|Best played with||Steering wheel peripheral|
Full disclosure: A code for the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Here is our review policy.